Friday, 26 May 2017

AU Day Within The Context Of The Challenges Facing The African Continent

Having existed for years as a continental body, the African Union has not been able to achieve the continental unity it wishes to attain. When its predecessor, the OAU, was formed in 1963, little did its leaders anticipate the myriad of problems it was likely to face as a body. What was uppermost on their minds was the total and quick emancipation of African States that were still under the yoke of colonialism. Today, the problems facing the continent include ethnic and cross border conflicts, refugee problems as well as pervasive hunger and starvation. Other problems are the scourge of AIDS and the incessant military incursion in governance.

Hence, it came as no surprise when in 2002 the OAU was replaced by the African Union with a more focused goal of propelling African states towards peace and prosperity as the basis for achieving the ultimate goal of political and economic integration of its member states. A major challenge confronting the AU and its leaders is how to respond to the creation of jobs as well as livelihood aspirations of Africa’s youth who account for three-quarters of the continent’s labour force. Another major challenge facing the African Union is funding. Programme costs for key institutions such as the Pan African Parliament, the Human Rights Commission and the Anti-Corruption Board are being paid for by donors. Again, the problem of corruption on the continent is real. What is more, the African continent has seen a rise in the threat of extremist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon and al-Shabaab in East Africa. These are challenges that must be overcome without delay. One other important challenge to address is dealing with corruption and the illicit flow of money from Africa.The continent possesses great wealth in its resources, but little of this wealth is used in the development of the continent. It has been estimated that Africa is losing close to $50bn annually with a large portion of this coming from the extractive industries such as oil and gas exploration.

Again, the AU would have to adopt an appropriate strategy to manage international co-operation in an era of globalisation and in a changing world order; it would need to come up with a relevant and practical conceptualisation of innovative and transformative partnership which its member states would certainly need to complement their national development efforts.

For many people on the continent, African Union Day is celebrated as a holiday but without much significance to them. This shows that the time has come for the African continent to sit up and sensitise its people to the essence of the aspirations of the continent. Africa appears to be better off when it comes to maintaining the status quo as a colonial legacy rather than taking positive radical steps to pursue the interest of its people.

Since the existence of the AU is crucial in world politics, much greater effort is needed to show its relevance and ensure that the continent has a stronger voice in the global arena rather than a mere whisper drowned out by other stronger players. The relevance of Africa must be felt in realistic terms by the world, so the earlier its leaders come together to solve its problems the better it will be for the continent.


International Day To End Obstetric Fistula

Obstetric fistula is a child birth injury resulting largely from prolonged obstructed labour in a setting where access to emergency obstetric care is limited. Consequently a hole develops between the birth canal and the bladder or between the birth canal and the rectum or both.The patient becomes incontinent of urine or faeces or both. Due to the constant odour of urine and faeces, they are treated at arm’s length and suffer immense social abandonment, stigmatization and ostracism. This situation is further worsened by cultural beliefs regarding the cause of obstructed labour and fistula.

The first hospital for treating obstetric fistula was set up in New York City in May 1855. Forty years later, the hospital was closed down when it was eradicated. In its place today stands the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In 1974, the world’s second hospital dedicated to obstetric fistula was started in Ethiopia. Forty-three years down the line, fistula is far from being eradicated in Ethiopia and indeed in Sub-Sahara Africa and Asia. Despite repairing nearly 30 thousand women over the last 30 years, Nigeria still has the highest burden of obstetric fistula in the world.

What is Sub-Saharan Africa missing in the narrative to end obstetric fistula?

In Ghana, the programmatic battle against fistula coincided with the UNFPA global campaign to end obstetric fistula launched in 2005. Ten years after the launch, a report on the burden of obstetric fistula in Ghana was produced. In the burden report 1,300 new cases of obstetric fistula develop each year. Out of this figure, about 200 fistula repairs are carried out each year. The obvious question is, where are the remaining 1,100 fistula cases?

To give meaning to Ghana’s campaign to end obstetric fistula, it is incumbent on all to help identify women living with obstetric fistula especially in the rural areas. Once identified, every effort should be made to get these women and girls to the hospitals for cure.

The culture of blaming the patients for their predicament should be stopped. The regional houses of chiefs have a role to play in refining the cultural interpretations given to obstructed labour. Mass education on obstetric fistula is key. Leprosy, Tuberculosis and HIV were stigmatized in the past. With education, many came out to be treated. Leprosy has been eliminated. Tuberculosis and HIV are under control. De-stigmatizing obstetric fistula will encourage more women suffering from the disease to come out for treatment.

The District Assemblies should join the campaign as was done for Guinea worm eradication, incentive packages can be considered for finding and reporting obstetric fistula cases. If developed countries have eliminated obstetric fistula, there is hope that this can be achieved if we identify the missing links in our elimination narrative. As we join the world to bring hope, healing and dignity to all women suffering from obstetric fistula, let us also put our shoulders to the wheel to find and bring those suffering from obstetric fistula for treatment. That should be the clarion anytime we join the global community to observe the international day to end obstetric fistula.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Understanding the Protracted Conflict Between Alavanyo and Nkonya

It is very heart-breaking that at a time when more resources are needed for socio-economic development in various parts of the country, some of these resources are being used to enforce and maintain peace in some conflict zones.

One of such conflict areas is Alavanyo-Nkonya which over the weekend witnessed the death of a middle age woman. 

History has it that the Alavanyos migrated from Saviefe through Akrofu to Sovie, near Kpando, to settle on land allocated to them by Nkonya in about 1840.

Initially, they were good neighbours, but later on became antagonistic towards each other because of differences over the ownership of land.

This conflict has lasted for close to one hundred years. On the causes of the conflict, one school of thought thinks that diversity of groups in society, in this case ethnic identities, are more prone to conflict.

This position is, however, unacceptable because other multiple entities have existed for centuries without threat of violence.

A fundamental cause of the conflict centres on people’s inability to get access to a basic need such as land for farming.

This is what has become a recipe for violence. Hence, the conflict is primarily caused by a dispute over land, a basic human need which finds its drive for violence in the differences of the two ethnic groups.

Indeed, the conflict remains latent until triggered by the activities of individuals such as unprovoked killings, unauthorised burning and cutting of timber and also farming on other people’s lands, among others, as well as the negative perceptions and opinions formed by each group of people about the other.

The consequences of the protracted conflict between Nkonya and Alavanyo include a situation of hopelessness and uncertainty of physical security, needless killings, destruction of properties, institutional deformity and destruction of communication channels that could have been used for dispute resolution.

For all these reasons, the residents of the Alavanyo-Nkonya area have been living in fear and mutual suspicion with each other for a very long time.

With regard to the persistence of the conflict, it must be acknowledged that although many efforts have been made at resolving it, the issue continues to persist because apart from non-execution of the various judgments of the courts on land ownership in the area there is lack of punitive measures against those who violate the law.

The Alavanyo-Nkonya conflict cannot be allowed to continue forever.

The Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery has announced government’s preparedness to resolve the conflict by initiating a dispute resolution mechanism for peace to prevail in the area.

According to him, his outfit is working closely with the Regional Security Council and National House of Chiefs to find an amicable solution to the almost a century old conflict that has led to many deaths.

It is good that the Ministry for the Interior has been pragmatic in terms of provision of security for the area.

What the country needs today is an acceptable, satisfactory, realistic and comprehensive solution to the age-long conflict.

In attempting to resolve the problem, all contributory factors, particularly the fundamental issues involved, must be taken into consideration to ensure the attainment of everlasting peace.

This is very necessary because any attempt at resolving the issue without addressing the fundamental factors relating to the conflict will at best only succeed temporarily even though a permanent solution is what is needed.


The role of technical and vocational education and training in Ghana’s development

The labour market in the 21st Century has become more specialised while economies demand higher levels of skill. This has compelled businesses and governments globally to increase their investments in technical and vocational training to secure its future. Some of the initiatives, notably from government perspective, include increased public funding in training organisations and subsidised apprenticeship or traineeship for businesses.

A report issued by the British Institute of Public Policy Research in recent years indicated that demand for medium-skilled jobs requiring technical and vocational qualifications would increase in the next 10 years. The underlying objective of vocational and technical education at the basic and secondary levels is to make vocational and technical training skills available to young men and women to facilitate their fulfillment of Ghana’s technical manpower needs, including self-employment in the fields of agriculture, business and industry.

Available statistics from the Ghana Education Service (GES) on pre-tertiary technical and vocational institutions in Ghana revealed the establishment of about 160 public technical and vocational institutions, including 22 technical institutes. Most technical and vocational education and training practitioners are in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy. The Asian Tigers, including Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore have developed sound policies in technical and vocational training. This has resulted in the supply of more highly-skilled labour force in those countries.

Emerging economies such as Ghana would have to emulate the sterling examples of the Asian Tigers in the area of technical and vocational training. Sound investment in technical and vocational education and training would yield the desired dividend. It would help train more people to meet the manpower needs of the country and possibly, have surplus to export.

Indeed, Ghana needs skilled labour force to maintain her houses, bridges, railroads or railways, and roads. To address to the growing technical skills requirement of the country, the Ghana Skills Development Initiative was founded. The initiative, a German Government assisted project being implemented in co-operation with the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training aims at building capacity in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy, Ghana's informal sector is noted for employing about 90 per cent of the active labour force.

If Ghana is to derive maximum benefits from technical and vocational training, there should be a change in attitude towards it. For instance an erroneous impression that students who often enrol in technical and vocational programmes are academically weak should be discarded. The situation is exacerbated further by some parents who do not subscribe to their wards’ decision to pursue careers in technical and vocational training. Excessive reliance on theory rather than practice due to lack of practical equipment in many institutions is not good for the promotion of technical and vocational training in developing economies, including Ghana.

The situation where students enrolled in some vocational training programmes do not read and take national examinations in English and mathematic should be reviewed. This is because it affects their smooth transition from one level of the academic ladder to the other. The 21st century is characterised by advanced technological standards. Use of sophisticated technical and vocational tools is the order of the day.

To this end, training of individuals in TVET should be based on scientific approach in addition to modern equipment practical instruction. Indeed, the continuous development of the technical and vocational education and training sector is very paramount. This is because availability of jobs in the “non-technical” sector of the Ghanaian economy is either non-existent or very scarce while the reverse is true in the case of the TVET sector. This presents the Government with an opportunity to encourage more individuals into technical and vocational education and training to equitably distribute the nation’s human capital among the various sectors to ensure increased productivity.

The Government should actively engage industries and graduates to ensure the effective absorption of technical and vocational graduates into the job market.

TEL: 233 (0)507213648 CELL: 233 (0)543 211842.

Ghana: Government’s strategy to address illegal mining once and for all

The problem of illegal mining or “galamsey” has caused so much havoc in Ghana that the government is now determined to deal with it once and for all. As has been stated over and over again, the government is not against mining activities as long as they are carried out in a legal and sustainable manner. If mining is carried out in a legal and sustainable manner, it not only creates substantial wealth to facilitate the socio-economic development of the country but also ensures that there is appropriate reclamation of land as well as preservation of the environment.

On the other hand, illegal mining or “galamsey” results in pollution and destruction of water bodies, creation of death traps in form of uncovered pits, degradation of the environment and destruction of farmlands. Other destructive effects are the devastating impact of cyanide and other harmful chemicals used by the illegal miners. These harmful chemicals seep deep into the soil and affect the plant we grow as food. When such food is eaten, they adversely affect the health consumers.

Another disastrous effect from illegal mining activities is the loss of revenue to the country. In 2016, for example, Ghana lost $2.3 billion through illegal mining activities. The losses represent royalties and taxes which the illegal miners did not pay to the state. The negative effects of illegal mining in the country calls for drastic measures aimed at addressing the menace.

To effectively deal with the issue and manage the menace, the government has instituted a five-year programme to address it once and for all. The programme known as Multi-lateral Mining Integrated Project is aimed at solving the “galamsey” menace.

Under this project, a number of measures are to be rolled-out to effectively address the problem. The measures are: first, creation of sustained awareness of the devastating effect of the activities of illegal miners. Second, ensuring strict enforcement of existing regulations in the mining sector and thirdly, offering alternative livelihoods for people currently engaged in illegal mining by organising them into co-operatives. The co-operatives will be engaged in legally controlled and properly regulated application of technology and enforcement of the law.

The government’s determination to clamp down on illegal mining is not xenophobic attack on foreign nationals. Rather it is a national commitment to protect the integrity of the environment and make life better for all. All illegal miners are, therefore, expected to take advantage of the project so as to work in groups in approved designated mining sites. The designated mining sites will have in place a central processing plant for the mined ore to be processed for a fee.

This will ensure proper monitoring and supervision of mining activities in the country. If this is done, the expected royalties and taxes will be paid to the state and land reclamation will also be carried out. In fact, land reclamation and greening of the environment can also be a source of income for those to be engaged in them while water bodies will be preserved for present and future generation.

The fight against “galamsey” is a tough one. It must be won at all costs in the interest of the nation no matter what.


The importance of 2017 National Policy Summit

Development Policy interventions have been part of nation building since time immemorial. Governments have over the years committed significant resources to support development interventions designed to improve the welfare of the people. When such interventions are well planned with the appropriate of policies, they are expected to yield desired social and economic development outcomes. One essential ingredient towards fruitful development intervention is dialogue. Promoting dialogue towards achieving consensus is considered an essential pre-requisite for success in any development effort.

It is in the light of these that the ongoing National Policy Summit initiated by the Ministry of Information to provide a platform for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to engage stakeholders in their operations is, considered laudable. According to the organisers, the purpose of the National Policy Summit is to regularly inform the public on detailed government strategies for revamping the economy for sustained growth. Such summit offers the platform for dialogue and is worthwhile towards effective public service delivery. It will in the long run ensure that policies formulated are achieved in relation to growth and development targets. The two-day Summit is expected to help government elicit feedback to shape its policies and programmes.

The event provides targeted information to meet the needs of specific stakeholders and will help interrogate policies and programmes whiles fostering partnership between government and the private sector in the areas of finance, agriculture, trade and industry, energy, infrastructure and poverty eradication among others. It is important to note that countries like China, Singapore, Sri Lanka among others that have chalked tremendous success in national development in recent times have from time to time critically offered platforms for such policies to be openly discussed and critiqued. The responsibility lies on all well-meaning Ghanaians to support such development efforts that cut across political party lines to ensure long term solutions to Ghana’s economic challenges. The intention of the Ministry of Information to ensure that this initiative becomes a regular programme is heartwarming and should be embraced by all.

Addressing participants at the opening of the Policy Summit in Accra Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia indicated that government will host a port efficiency conference to learn best practices from countries in Africa and beyond to ease the stress of doing business in Ghana. According to the organizers of the summit, the programme will also engage Independent Power Producers interested in government’s alternative energy programmes as well as the Bulk Distributing Companies wanting to understand some of the new policies.

These are indications that the summit will tap ideas from both local and international sources as a recipe for sustainable development. The Ministry of Information deserves commendation for this initiative tailored at consensus building which is important in today's interconnected society. This is because many problems exist that affect diverse groups of people with different interests. As problems mount, organizations that deal with society's problems come to rely on each other for help. Consensus-building allow a variety of people to make input into decision-making rather than leaving controversial decisions up to government representatives or experts.

Opening up governance through summits like this is therefore laudable and should not be a nine days' wonder.


Placing value on Technical and Vocational Education

President Akuffo-Addo in a speech and prize-giving day at Mafe-Kumase in the Volta Region stated that technical education is crucial for socio-economic development. This is one fact that cannot be glossed over or swept under the carpet. It is through the development of sound technical and vocational educational skills that the country’s abundant resources can be fully harnessed and utilised for the country's advancement. Education is meant to broaden the horizon of people and sharpen their skills for socio-economic and political development. However, it is clear from observation that the general thinking is skewed towards the generality of grammar education bequeathed to us by the colonial masters several years ago.

It is unfortunate that we are unable to fix problems relating to technical requirements in our industries, a problem that comes about as a result of inadequate facilities for practical work in technical and vocational institutions. There is, therefore, the need to support practical work to wholly develop the employable skills of every school child in the country.

In the words of President Akuffo-Addo, “We need skilled people to modernise our country, and every child has a talent they must bring out for that purpose.” This statement is very important because our natural talents are not only found in the grammar type of education but also in the technical and vocational areas of life which offer more employment opportunities.

A related issue here is the view of many experts that our educational system tends to place less emphasis on the development of technical and vocational skills. Such neglect is what principally accounts for the high rate of unemployment in various sectors of the economy. Technical skills should be developed in every field so as to be able to encourage self-employment and entrepreneurship initiatives.

Without the development of technical and vocational skills, we may end up promoting the import business in the country, a situation that is not healthy for self-dependence and economic development. In the light of this, the country needs to encourage practical work in technical and vocational education. This explains why President Akufo-Addo pledged to provide a workshop complex for the Mafe-Kumase Senior High Technical School to transform the institution.

Technical and vocational training must be given the needed proportion of emphasis alongside general education training. This will ensure that the blend of all skills are utilised to the maximum for rapid economic development in line with the national aspirations. Indeed, employers in Ghana admit that looking for people with technical skills for industry is very difficult because certain specific technical skills are non-existent.

Let us give technical and vocational skills of various dimensions the needed support for a more, productive glorious future for the country.

By Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, Head of Public Relations, Ghana Standards Authority.

Ghana: The ban on drumming and noise-making

The Ga Traditional Council on May 8, 2017 placed a ban on drumming and noise-making as part of preparations towards 2017 Homowo. History has it that the Ga-Dangme people suffered starvation during their migration to their present settlement. As a result of this, they initiated an annual traditional rite to observe absolute silence for the gods and ancestors of the Ga State to bless the land with bumper harvest ahead of the celebration of the festival. It is expected that all the stakeholders will play their roles in ensuring that the one month ban period will be devoid of confusion and confrontation.

Unfortunately, the conflict bordering on religious intolerance has become an annual ritual during the one month ban on drumming and noise-making in Accra. This has in recent times led to serious clashes between operators of night clubs, drinking bars, shops selling musical instruments, church groups among others and some youth who think such facilities generate excessive noise. When the situation gets out of hand, it results in gross violations and flagrant abuse of human rights, loss of property and in some cases, death.

Unfortunately, religious groups are seen as the worst culprit of these noise-makers, leading to tension between them and the traditionalists. Some have argued that with the constitutional provisions which guarantee the freedom of worship, the religious groups see the ban on drumming and noise-making as an infringement on their unalienable fundamental human rights and therefore disregard it with contempt. They further contend that the observance of the ban is contrary to their belief. Thus, obeying the ban will mean compromising on their faith and biblical teachings. Others have also argued that the traditional rulers are the custodians of the land and have every right to enforce silence at a particular time of the year in accordance with customs and traditions and this should be respected.

It is true that Accra, the Capital city, is a melting pot of diverse origins and cultures where people co-exist with one another. But it is also true that Accra cannot be said to be no man’s land. This calls for rules of mutual tolerance on the part of all for the common good of society. Strangely enough, in other traditional jurisdictions of the country, once a ban is imposed, people obey it without questioning, but when it comes to drumming and noise-making in Accra, hell breaks loose! This does not augur well for peace and development of the capital Accra. Every culture has its uniqueness. And respect for each other’s culture must be mutual and is a sign of maturity and tolerance for peaceful co-existence in any harmonious society.

Let us not forget that every festive occasion of any group of people in the country is an opportunity for them to retell their history to the younger generations. Ghana is blessed with many festivals which are held yearly in various parts of the country and celebrations of such festivals should be things that unite us more than divide us. It is in this regard that traditional areas which often place ban on drumming and noise-making should have constructive engagement with key interest groups to maintain the peace.

In enforcing the ban, the traditionalists should not take the law into their own hands to mete out instant justice to offenders by either seizing or vandalizing property. The enforcement of the ban on drumming in the Ga Traditional area which has in recent years led to confrontation and confusion with some youth arrogating to themselves the duties and functions of the security agencies should be discouraged. Offenders who violate the ban should be dealt with according to the law and any infractions of the law should be reported to the Task Force on Nuisance Control and the law enforcement agencies mandated to monitor and ensure compliance.

There is the need for stakeholders – particularly Police, Churches, Events organizers, Traditional rulers, Opinion leaders, the media, Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council and Accra Metropolitan Assembly to work towards ensuring peace and tranquility during the period of the ban on drumming and noise-making in the Accra Metropolis.

Let there be peace in Accra this time round.

By George Oko Mensah, a Freelance Journalist.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Encroachment On Ghana Broadcasting Corporation Lands

The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation was established on 31st July 1935. Up till now, it is the only public service broadcaster in the country providing essential services to the nation and citizens.

For many years, it has contributed and continues to contribute to the social, economic, political and cultural advancement of Ghana.

From a humble beginning as a relay radio station, the corporation can now boast of six television channels and 15 radio stations scattered across the length and breadth of Ghana.

One significant feature of GBC, is its deliberate and carefully calculated attempt to serve all segments of the society. 
In that regard, it broadcasts in English, which is the official language of the state, in addition to the major Ghanaian languages including Ewe, Akan, Ga, Dagbanli and Nzema. In the regions, the corporation broadcasts in the main languages spoken.

In view of this reality, GBC continues to serve a wide range of audience despite the plurality of the media. 
It is however sad that in spite of the laudable services the state broadcaster renders the nation, the corporation is bleeding profusely financially.

As a result, the corporation has been compelled to venture into what can best be described as a hybrid system where it undertakes both commercial and public service.

It was only recently that parliament approved new TV license fees to be charged by the Corporation. Perhaps, the biggest challenge confronting GBC presently may not be obsolete equipment which results in frequent breaks in transmission but rather the level of encroachment on its lands.

Arguably, GBC is the State agency with the largest size of land in the country. It has vast lands in each regional capital and in almost every district in Ghana.

Most of the lands acquired by government for use by GBC were located in the outskirts of towns and villages. However, with the passing of time and rapid urbanisation, most of those areas have become prime and can now be found in the middle of cities and towns.

As a result, GBC lands are targets of serious encroachment by individuals, traditional authorities and even state agencies. A cursory look at the original map of GBC lands throughout the country has revealed serious encroachment.

This development was made easier sadly because the Corporation no longer operates from most of those areas. GBC nevertheless needs those lands for future development, for instance for the setting up of community radio stations.

It is therefore imperative that the Corporation takes every necessary step to retrieve and protect all its lands. Of late, GBC lands in Akwatia, Bortianor, Weija, Goaso, Wa, Akatsi and Hohoe have been in the news for one reason or the other.

There have been speculations in the media that the Corporation itself is selling parts of its lands to individuals. It is for instance alleged that the Corporation has sold its land at Akwatia in the Eastern Region to the former MP Baba Jamal.

Management has however denied the allegations. The truth is, no individual in GBC, not even the Director General nor the Board Chairman can sell any GBC land, which is in reality for the state.

Regarding the Akwatia land, the truth is, GBC through its Board and Management, entered into an agreement with the Denkyembour District Assembly, where the two parties will swap lands.

In that regard, the Assembly will use the Corporation's land in Akwatia for a school project as the Corporation is given a replacement land elsewhere. GBC is a state institution, and therefore government has a duty to ensure that the integrity of the corporation's lands is kept intact at all times.

In this vein, the Lands Commission and the Town and Country Planning unit of each District Assembly have a sacred responsibility to protect GBC lands everywhere from encroachment.

The Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies must refrain from issuing building and development permits to individuals to develop property on GBC lands.

In cases where any property is developed on any GBC land without permit, the Assemblies must move in quickly to stop such projects or demolish them as the case may be.

The corporation must also not sit aloof and look on helplessly as its lands are encroached upon.

It must continue with its collaboration with the National Security Task Force on Governments Lands, and the District Assembles to demolish illegal structures on its lands. Even though it may require a lot of financial injection, the corporation must look for the resources to fence all its remaining lands.

Going into the future, the corporation must look at entering into a Private Public Partnership arrangement with individuals or corporate entities for its lands to be developed.

This will not only ensure that the lands are protected but also serve as a major source of badly needed revenue for the efficient running of the corporation, especially at this time that GBC has been penciled to be taken off government subvention.GBC, the authentic and trusted voice of Ghana.


Conflict resolution through facilitated Mediation

The new millennium has brought with it distinct problems at the workplace and in the communities, which call for new approaches in finding solutions to them. The workplace in particular has become insecure now and rapidly changing technologies are increasingly making the marketplace competitive. This has resulted in long–term careers being turned into short-term contracts, temporary work and fixed term contracts as companies restructure the labour force in order to survive. The lack of job security has also brought about lack of long-term financial security. Workers' dreams of improved lifestyle are being shattered by the uncertainty of the workplace. Labour Act 651 has provided a framework for addressing some of these issues. For example, it answers how an environment can be created to restore confidence of workers and prospective job seekers in the dignity of work. The Act also answers the question on how labour and management can agree to provide job security, deliver profits, growth and progress.

Similarity, the Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR ACT 798 is to help the workplace and communities to resolve their disputes and free the traditional adversarial courts to handle the more difficult first degree felony cases among others. Unfortunately, when most people hear the phrase ‘workplace conflict management system,’ they think of the organization’s grievance system or other formal complaint management process. In reality, most conflicts are managed or prevented automatically by every individual, minute – by - minute during the course of the work day, by using social skills that have been learnt at birth. We all started acquiring those social skills from infancy and continued through kindergarten, the school playground, and on through life. It must be stated that some conflicts escalate beyond the level at which ordinary social skills are adequate.

Sadly, most organisations have no mechanism to resolve them until they become formal complaints where a case number is assigned and with experts engaged for a do - or - die settlement. It is in this light that one commends Gamey and Gamey Academy of Mediation for the facilitated mediation aspects of a number of training programmes to fill the yawning gap between the Automatic System and the Formal Adversarial system. A facilitated mediation is a process geared towards conflicts resolution. It is characterized by negotiation between dissenting parties while an impartial third party, namely the mediator, is present.

The mediator’s job is to facilitate a process where each party has an opportunity to present their point - of view within the conflict and have a conversation to reach the best possible solutions. Often resolutions reached in mediation allow for greater flexibility and creativity than those reached in arbitration or the court. It is important for practitioners to acquire the necessary knowledge, understanding and skill as tools for managing conflicts, and preventing their further escalation. These definitely do not come naturally to most people just because they occupy certain known positions in society.

There are mediation skills that must be learned, just as medicine and engineering is learnt from experts in the field. The management of differences in relationships, is crucial so that there will be no need for the intervention of the traditional adversarial courts. Our educational institutions include in their curricula Youth Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation topics. It will enable students – parents-teachers and school authorities to apply a facilitated mediation as a tool in resolving the numerous problems existing in our educational institutions.

This way, Ghana as a nation will also be answering the call of mentoring and coaching our youth to prevent future conflicts, when the present generation in the next decade retires from active service.


Friday, 5 May 2017

2017 May Day celebration, the need for gov't to address all labour-related problems

Theme for 2017 May Day: “Ghana@60: mobilising for Ghana’s future through the creation of decent jobs”

The history of the celebration of May Day which dates back to 1st – 4th May, 1886, was through the bold and courageous initiative by some leaders in the United States of America who declared a general strike to back their demand for an eight-hour working day.

As a result of that bold initiative, May Day has become an important event celebrated worldwide which acknowledges the contributions and sacrifices of workers to the socio-economic progress in all countries.

Ghanaian workers have over the years have largely used the May Day to draw attention to critical issues which require concerted effort on the part of employers government inclusive and employees to ensure sound working environment towards efficient service delivery and also improve productivity.

It is no secret that there were times in the past, when May Day was portrayed as a confrontation between workers and employers.

Thankfully, today, it serves as an occasion for collaboration between workers, on one hand, and government and other employers, on the other.

This is aimed at unearthing and drawing attention to the challenges facing labour and also promoting healthy relations with employers for the mutual good of the social partners.

The theme for this year’s May Day is: “Ghana@60: mobilising for Ghana’s future through the creation of decent jobs”. Significantly, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will associate with this year’s event in his capacity as the Head of State.

President Akufo-Addo since assuming the high office on January 7 this year stressed time and again that his government was committed to job creation for Ghanaians.

Towards this end, a number of steps have been initiated towards the creation of jobs to tackle the unemployment problem facing the country.

For example, the startling debt of 2.4 billion Ghana cedis in the energy sector alone is enough to crush any emerging economy such as that of Ghana.

On the basis of this, therefore, Ghanaians owe it to posterity to support efforts being made as a matter of urgency to address all unpleasant issues relating to the bottlenecks in the Energy Sector.

This is very important because sound economic development greatly depends on a good energy sector.

It is for this reason that the energy problem ought to be fixed once and for all.

Also, a few days ago, the President cut the sod for the construction of a 400-megawatt power project, the world’s biggest LPG-fired plant.

This is meant to address the energy problem which is fundamental to the economic growth of the country.

It should be the wish of all citizens that the One District One factory project and the Planting for Food and Jobs Program are successfully implemented to provide more job avenues in the country.

There is no doubt that the increasing number of unemployed people in the country is a major threat to the country’s peace and security.

The government needs to overcome this challenge as quickly as possible to be able to promote social harmony and peaceful co-existence among various sections of people in the country.

Even though the unemployment problem is a challenge worldwide, it is a situation that cannot be toyed with. This is why the concern of labour in its demand for the creation of decent jobs is critical in ensuring peace and harmony in the country.

At the same time, there is the need to pay attention to safety and health at work places so that workers can feel adequately protected during working hours.

For these reasons, government must do all it can to address all labour-related problems so as to create the needed confidence in the economy and also in the employment sector since unemployment is rendering many people, especially the youth, helpless and hopeless in their social lives.

By Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, Head of Public Relations, Ghana Standards Authority


Water resources management towards rural development

Ghana is currently grappling with the devastating effects of illegal mining activities with water bodies which support life being the hardest hit. It is on this basis that another look must be taken at the importance of water resources for rural development. Fresh water is a precious resource essential for sustaining life and undertaking any productive activity. It is estimated that 70 percent of available fresh water is used for Agriculture, the main occupation in rural areas. In the absence of an enhanced system of managing water resources, an efficient strategy to battle poverty in rural areas would be undermined. Efficient management of water resources implies progress in all the three pillars of sustainable development namely, social, economic and environmental. Ensuring access to safe drinking water is therefore fundamental towards enhancing good health of the human resource base of Ghana.

Due to bad water management practices, water related diseases kill an estimated three million people a year in developing countries with most of them living in rural areas. When 2017 World water Day in Ghana was marked, it was revealed that 40% of Ghanaians lack access to safe drinking water, whilst 50% of rural dwellers rely on unsafe water for drinking and other household activities. If the saying that water is life is anything to go by, then these statistics are indeed disturbing.

According to the UN Sustainable Development Goals launched in 2015, everyone in the world must have access to safe water by 2030. The critical question is, is this SDG target achievable in Ghana when important water bodies such as the River Ankobra in the Western Region, and the River Birem in the Eastern Region among others are being polluted by environmental activities such as illegal mining? It is worthy to indicate that forests are a precious reservoir of water that ensure favourable rainfall pattern and therefore should be saved from negative environmental practices. We should be mindful of the harm we are doing to ourselves and future generations by conniving with foreigners to degrade our forests.

It is sad to that in spite of the nation’s immense potential in the fishing industry which is a major source of employment for rural communities, Ghana imports 50 percent of its fish needs. Today, Countries such as Israel, Japan and Jamaica are making giant strides as a result of the attention they have given over the years to efficient management of water bodies to support aquatic life. Unfortunately many water bodies in rural communities in Ghana are unable to adequately support aquatic life as a result of the pollution. In the world where more than 70 percent of fisheries are overexploited developing countries such as Ghana that have comparative advantage of harnessing its potential in fish production require efficient water management strategies for optimum results in this sector.

The Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies can be effective in dealing with mismanagement of water by collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Water Resources Commission and Non-Governmental Organizations that have management of water resources at heart. If the many eco-tourism sites such as the waterfalls and the lakes can be protected through prudent water management practices it would be a source of employment in rural communities and go a long way to minimise rural poverty and check rural- urban migration and its associated challenges.

The recent advocacy by the media against illegal mining and the attendant effects on the environment is priceless. It is important to note that the rural areas are the food baskets of Ghana’s economy, the fight against rural water pollution and any other life support system from ‘galamsey’ should therefore be a concern for all.